Uncovering Curiosities: Fred Dekker’s NIGHT OF THE CREEPS
Fred Dekker’s 1986 directorial debut, Night Of The Creeps is a gloriously bonkers horror-comedy which blends 1950s B-movie/sci-fi with 1980s frat-boy comedy. You’d think the whole thing would buckle under the silliness of it all, but Dekker keeps things moving at such a fast pace that you don’t have time to worry about how over-the-top it all is. You’re swept along with it’s energy and the comedically hard-boiled performance by Tom Atkins.
Jason Lively and Steve Marshall are Chris and James, losers in love who stumble across an alien invasion from slug-like creatures which inhabit human skulls and turn their hosts into zombies. Can they save the human race? Can Jason win the heart of Cynthia (Jill Whitlow)? Can Tom Aktin’s kick any more ass?
Probably best known for the equally fun ‘80s monster-mash-up, The Monster Squad (and more recently The Predator), Fred Dekker crafts Night Of The Creeps as a love letter to the horror genre. Most of the film’s characters are named after horror directors (Carpenter, Cronenberg, Raimi, Landis, Romero, Miner et al) and the opening sequence perfectly recreates the tone of a 1950s sci-fi flick. It could every easily have felt like a pastiche, but Dekker keeps it all on the right side of homage. It’s a film filled with monsters, aliens, zombies and everything else that Dekker can throw at the audience. It’s a testament to Dekker’s talent as a writer-director that Night Of The Creeps has all that but it never feels over-stuffed. That takes skill.
Lively and Marshall make for an excellent, bumbling Abbott and Costello-style duo and Jill Whitlow is a spunky female lead who never feels like a damsel in distress. However, Night Of The Creeps is Tom Atkins’ movie and he over-plays everything to the hilt, perfectly capturing the OTT tone Dekker is striving for. A lot of films get called cult movies, but that is exactly what Night Of The Creeps is – a damn good cult movie. It’s fun, dumb and filled with enough energy to power a nuclear power station.